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Sir Alex hails evergreen Scholes after Fulham win

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has heaped praise on veteran midfielder Paul Scoles after he scored the opening goal in Wednesday night's victory over Fulham.

The 3-0 win sent the Red Devils five points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League with Sir Alex praising the 34-year-old's contribution.

It was the former England international's first Premier League goal of the season - ending a barren run which stretches back to a 1-1 draw with Portsmouth in August 2007.

Scholes scored the first after Mark Schwarzer spilled his shot and helped set up Dimitar Berbatov for the second.

"He was fantastic. Some of his switches of play were magnificent," said Sir Alex. "These lads are great examples to young players in how they live their life.

"They have kept their ambition, which is important. We are delighted with their performance and are so proud to have them here.''

Dimitar Berbatov has claimed United have a unique talent in Scholes.

"Nobody else in the world can play the way Scholes does,'' he said. "The passes he produces all over the field and the way he changes the game is brilliant. Every manager would like him. But luckily, he is here and playing with us.''

Berbatov also confirmed the amount of time Scholes spends perfecting the corner kick routine which produced his goal.

"Paul practices that all the time. When he has finished training he always goes out and shoots,'' said the 27-year-old.

Ferguson again reiterated his belief that Chelsea are a spent force in the title race.

"You can never be dead sure, but it is fair to say Chelsea have an uphill fight now,'' reflected Ferguson. "Things can happen. We were 12 points clear of Arsenal in 1998 but we got a lot of injuries and lost the league.

"Now we can cope with it, like we have done in the last few weeks. That is the change at this club. We have such a big squad we can make changes.''

Evidence of that was provided not just by Giggs' omission but also the return of Wayne Rooney, brought on after an hour following a seven-match absence with a hamstring injury and promptly scoring United's final goal with his first touch.

"Wayne is 100% now - there is no question about that,'' he added. "He is back, and we hope he stays back. We are at the stage of the season when we don't take chances with any of the players. If you do and exacerbate a problem they can be out for weeks. We don't want that.''

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